30 May 2022

First Impressions: The Bob Burger's Movie

This was a pretty wild Memorial Day Weekend at the Box Office! Or at least it was for everyone geared up for Top Gun: Maverick (2022)! But I watched The Bob's Burgers Movie (2022) instead, which was an equally importantly nostalgic style of filmmaking - The big screen adult animated show adaptation! SPOILERs hotter than a hot rod to follow.
Bob's Burgers has quietly been on the air for twelve seasons. That's nuts. I guess we just don't cancel animated series anymore (See the fact that American Dad! has somehow been renewed through Season 21). But Bob’s Burgers feels hardly like its contemporaries. It’s such a subtle, family-based show. It’s more King of the Hill than Family Guy, with hardly any interest in shock humour, pop culture references, or even a dynamic protagonist.
It’s wildly entertaining. I stopped watching a few years ago when the sameness of each episode started getting to me, but it’s so wholesome that I couldn’t consider myself anti-Bob. It even works through H. Jon Benjamin’s ubiquitous voice. But it’s always feels so under the radar. It’s unbelievable they made a movie about this.
This feels like the marketing move of yesteryear when we got a South Park movie in 1999, a Simpsons movie in 2007, and what feels like an insane number of Rugrats movies. All those standards are there – a huge upgrade in animation and blocking (shadows!), big musical numbers, and centering around the reveal of a gimmicky thing they’ve never revealed in the show (what’s under Louise’s ears). Except unlike Kenny’s face, they still don’t show it.
This is a genuinely feel good summer movie. The plot is significant, but in Burgers fashion, it’s not all THAT dramatic. Sure, the family is in danger of losing the restaurant, but when are they not!? And there is a sinister murder plot, but that also could be an episode. The film works by giving each character a basic but sincere motivation and playing that off with earned set-ups and payoffs for the rest of the film. Tina wants to ask out Jimmy Jr, Gene wants to play music, and Louise wants to prove she’s not a baby. It’s all standard Bob’s Burgers fare, but that’s why it works. It stays really true to the show while finding new ways to challenge these characters and spinning their typical tropes.
It showcases most of its secondary characters, from Mickey to the Fischoeders (a central plot point), although there’s not much from Jimmy Pesto or Gail or Mort. The former might be because the voice actor was in the Capitol Riot. Yaaaay. But it delivers what fans of the show want, which is a little spotlight for everyone.
The show is incredibly musical, almost every episode has a little song in it, sometimes just over the end credits, and the film is no different – it actually had a bit less songs than I expected. They mostly land, and the choreography is expansive and exciting, which always happens when characters in such a static show look so dynamic. Their faces weren’t that expressionable, which threw me off a bit, but it was still very fun.
It's also very genuinely funny. The humour comes from character traits instead of conflict, which is always a bit of an acquired taste, and it always spins things in a slightly unexpected way. The peak of the film, when the family is SPOILER buried alive contains one of the most magnificent comedic sequences in recent memory. It gets its comedy from goofiness, commitment, and pay off. You know, classic comedy. It’s always weird to watch this and then see comedians complain that comedy is dead or that we don’t know how to laugh anymore. We’ve never needed Bob’s Burgers more than right now.
The main plot gets going when Louise finds a dead body in a sinkhole and the mystery is afoot! You can guess where this is going when they introduce a new character, voiced by David Wain. Like, it’s always the new guy since a murder accusation of any main character would both throw off the show and paint a rough color on any preceding character. You can see it coming. Although it only worked for me because I figured Wain’s character was a recent addition to the show that I had missed. They sell you on the many possible suspects and it all works.
It does through you right into the action as if it were just another Season 12 episode that you’ve been binge watching. There’s almost no character introduction or grounding in the world, which was refreshingly efficient for someone familiar with the show, but I’m curious if someone would be lost going into this. I don’t really think so, this is really the kind of show that’s easy to figure out pretty fast, and that holds well for the movie as well.
There’s almost no celebrities brought into the cast, which is the good move. It really just feels like a long and magnificent episode of the show, and I say that in the best way possible. It was a lot of fun, a wholesome little excursion on a fun Saturday Memorial afternoon and it hit everywhere it needed to.
And as usual, there are plenty of puns here that work really well. I’m just waiting for The Great North movie now!

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